Today's Catch

May 14, 2014
Credit:

L. Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (www.cmarz.org)

This colony of Rosacea may look like a single jellyfish, but it is actually a large group of smaller siphonophores clustered and living together. In fact, the zooids (individual siphonophores living in the colony) cannot survive on their own. This specimen was photographed by the Census of Marine Zooplankton , a project of the Census of Marine Life , in the Sargasso Sea in April 2006. A Rosacea...Read more
Apr 29, 2014
Credit:

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration

The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred on March 24, 1989 when an oil tanker grounded on a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. It spilled almost 11 million gallons of crude oil, which reached 1,300 miles of coastline. The spill's remote location, accessible by air or boat only, made the restoration response all the more difficult. Seabirds, mammals, fish, invertebrates, and their communities were...Read more
Apr 23, 2014
Credit:

Deano Cook/Nature's Best Photography

At night this lemon shark ( Negaprion brevirostris ) lurks at the surface, but often during the day they will lie on the ocean bottom. This behavior had been thought to save them energy, but in reality it takes energy for the shark to push water over their gills while not moving. They may be lying still to be cleaned by small fish, like the wrasse. “As nightfall was approaching and the sun...Read more
Apr 16, 2014
Credit:

© Sandra Raredon/Smithsonian Institution

The distinctive form of a winghead shark ( Eusphyra blochii ) is revealed by an X-ray image. The Winghead Shark, one of about ten species of hammerhead sharks, has its eyes set at the tips of its wide, T-shaped head, giving it superb binocular vision. Scientists in the Division of Fishes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History use X-ray images, like the one shown, to study the...Read more
Apr 14, 2014
Credit:

The Wales Inupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary, courtesy of Igor Krupnik (NMNH)

To people living in warm climates, all ice looks the same. But if you live day-in and day-out on sea ice, like the Inupiaq people of Alaska, you would find that there are many kinds of ice, all distinct. In fact, the Inupiaq have more than 100 names for different kinds of sea ice, illustrated here. A female walrus and her calf ( isavgalik ) rest on ice ( nunavait ) in the midst of scattered pack...Read more
Mar 17, 2014
Credit:

George Cathcart

"Fronds of giant kelp, buoyed by their gas-filled pneumatocysts, wave like pennants in the current of Monterey Bay, California," wrote George Cathcart of his image , a winning selection in the Portraits of Planet Ocean Flickr contest . Giant kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera ) is large, brown algae that grows in dense forests along coasts around the world. Long stalks anchor each plant to the seafloor...Read more
Feb 18, 2014
Credit:

Robert L. Pitman, NOAA Fisheries, USA

Killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) have something in common with humans: early menopause. Read Smithsonian marine scientist Nancy Knowlton's blog post to find out more.Read more
Feb 4, 2014
Credit:

David Burdick/NOAA Photo Library

A crown-of-thorns starfish ( Acanthaster planci ) on a reef in the Marianas Islands. An “outbreak” of these coral-eating starfish can decimate a reef, and they have done great damage on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.Read more
Feb 3, 2014
Credit:

Seabird McKeon

Relatively slow moving, juvenile plane-head filefish Monacanthus hispidus (Monacanthidae) travel along with the algae. They pick off and eat small animals as they move around in the rotating sargassum ball. Adult filefish only grow to be about 11 inches long. Off the coast of Belize, Smithsonian Marine Science Network postdoctoral fellow, Seabird McKeon, studies floating seaweeds and the...Read more
Jan 22, 2014
Credit:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the 1940s the short-tailed albatross population plummeted from tens of millions to such a small number that they were believed to be extinct. Their decline was due to hunting for their feathers and damage to their breeding islands from volcanic activity. Keeping track of these migratory birds can be difficult. They nest and breed on islands off of Japan and then fly to the west coast of the...Read more

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